Into Africa

Readability

Into Africa

by baldilocks

The New Colonialism’s ten­ta­cles are well in place.

As part of the trillion-​dollar inter­na­tional devel­op­ment strat­egy, the Belt and Road Ini­tia­tive (BRI), Chi­nese com­pa­nies have been instru­men­tal in pro­vid­ing arti­fi­cial intel­li­gence and facial recog­ni­tion sys­tems to African governments.

In 18 out of the 65 coun­tries assessed by Free­dom house, Chi­nese com­pa­nies includ­ing Cloud­Walk, Hikvi­sion, and Yitsu had pro­vided tech­no­log­i­cal assis­tance to gov­ern­ments in cre­at­ing sys­tems able to iden­tify threats to “pub­lic order.”

In Zim­babwe, for exam­ple, the Guangzhou-​based startup Cloud­Walk reached an agree­ment with the gov­ern­ment to build a national facial recog­ni­tion and mon­i­tor­ing sys­tem to be placed through­out cities and pub­lic trans­port stations.

There was no vote on the issue in Zim­babwe and, given the rise of China’s inva­sive social credit sys­tem, there are fears that the tech­nol­ogy could be used to sig­nif­i­cantly inter­vene into the lives of Zimbabwe’s cit­i­zens in the future.

Though aus­pi­ciously designed to help bat­tle crime, some are con­cerned that the tech­nol­ogy could be used to sti­fle oppo­si­tion. In the words of Zim­bab­wean jour­nal­ist Garikai Dzoma, “African auto­crats […] will no doubt use it to enhance their polit­i­cal posi­tions by hound­ing oppo­nents.” [snip]

In Jan­u­ary 2018 […] African Union offi­cials accused China of hack­ing its head­quar­ter’ com­put­ers every night for five years. Bei­jing had funded the build­ing in Ethiopia and a Chi­nese state-​owned com­pany built it.

That one of the most promi­nent polit­i­cal orga­ni­za­tions in the con­ti­nent had been unknow­ingly send­ing all of their con­fi­den­tial data directly to the Chi­nese state cer­tainly raises con­cerns about the impli­ca­tions of China’s grow­ing influ­ence in the tech­no­log­i­cal infra­struc­ture of Africa.

Empha­sis mine. Short response: duh.

(I talked here about a 2020 POTUS can­di­date who pro­motes an app sim­i­lar to China’s social credit system.)

There isn’t much to be done about this from America’s point of view — espe­cially since China has long been in Africa. I’m just lament­ing the brevity of the African inde­pen­dence era. But the var­i­ous African gov­ern­ments brought it on themselves.

As for the inva­sive­ness of gov­ern­ment tech­nol­ogy here in this hemi­sphere: don’t get cocky, my fel­low Americans.

This gov­ern­ment already has its nose in your dig­i­tal busi­ness and is always look­ing to expand its reach.

Pro­ceed with caution.

Juli­ette Akinyi Ochieng has been blog­ging since 2003 as baldilocks. Her older blog is here. She pub­lished her first novel, Tale of the Tigers: Love is Not a Game in 2012.

Fol­low her on Face­book, Twit­ter, MeWe, and Gab.

Hit Da Tech Guy Blog’s Tip Jar or hit Juliette’s!

by baldilocks

The New Colonialism’s tentacles are well in place.

As part of the trillion-dollar international development strategy, the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), Chinese companies have been instrumental in providing artificial intelligence and facial recognition systems to African governments.

In 18 out of the 65 countries assessed by Freedom house, Chinese companies including CloudWalk, Hikvision, and Yitsu had provided technological assistance to governments in creating systems able to identify threats to “public order.”

In Zimbabwe, for example, the Guangzhou-based startup CloudWalk reached an agreement with the government to build a national facial recognition and monitoring system to be placed throughout cities and public transport stations.

There was no vote on the issue in Zimbabwe and, given the rise of China’s invasive social credit system, there are fears that the technology could be used to significantly intervene into the lives of Zimbabwe’s citizens in the future.

Though auspiciously designed to help battle crime, some are concerned that the technology could be used to stifle opposition. In the words of Zimbabwean journalist Garikai Dzoma, “African autocrats […] will no doubt use it to enhance their political positions by hounding opponents.” [snip]

In January 2018 […] African Union officials accused China of hacking its headquarter’ computers every night for five years. Beijing had funded the building in Ethiopia and a Chinese state-owned company built it.

That one of the most prominent political organizations in the continent had been unknowingly sending all of their confidential data directly to the Chinese state certainly raises concerns about the implications of China’s growing influence in the technological infrastructure of Africa.

Emphasis mine. Short response: duh.

(I talked here about a 2020 POTUS candidate who promotes an app similar to China’s social credit system.)

There isn’t much to be done about this from America’s point of view — especially since China has long been in Africa. I’m just lamenting the brevity of the African independence era. But the various African governments brought it on themselves.

As for the invasiveness of government technology here in this hemisphere: don’t get cocky, my fellow Americans.

This government already has its nose in your digital business and is always looking to expand its reach.

Proceed with caution.

Juliette Akinyi Ochieng has been blogging since 2003 as baldilocks. Her older blog is here.  She published her first novel, Tale of the Tigers: Love is Not a Game in 2012.

Follow her on Facebook, Twitter, MeWe, and Gab.

Hit Da Tech Guy Blog’s Tip Jar or hit Juliette’s!